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Mind Games and Maybe Truths

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Izuku was filled with a feeling of dread as he followed Aizawa down the menacing halls of Tartarus. Guards surrounded them as they made their way to the elevator. One of the guards had a mutation quirk involving goat horns and if they were in almost any other situation he’d be itching to ask them questions about it. He stared down at his red shoes, not knowing where else to look as they walked. The elevator looked secure with its clean dark metal, he heard the swipe of a keycard and they were ushered inside quickly. 

The descent downwards was longer than Izuku would’ve hoped for. He could feel Aizawa’s eyes everytime they glanced at him, the nervousness that hung in the air between them. It was just them and the background noise of the elevator. Eventually the elevator dinged and they all stepped out, in front of them was a single long daunting hallway with one door at the end already with more guards than Izuku cared to count. The air was stale and smelled vaguely of cleaning supplies. He felt Aizawa’s hand on his shoulder, it was reassuring. The guards that had traveled with them filed ahead, getting into position and giving the teacher student duo some space.

“If you're in trouble don’t worry about the time limit.” Aizawa said, “We’ll be right outside just in case.”

Izuku nodded, “I understand Sensei.”

Aizawa didn’t say anything else as the two of them walked down the hall. The nervousness he felt only grew with each step, it was just ten minutes. It would just be ten minutes. The door opened to a small room with another door on the other side, in which two guards and Aizawa would stay for the duration of the conversation. He had reread the plans more times than he could count last night after he found he couldn’t sleep.

Aizawa took out a pocket watch and nodded to a guard, the heavy door opened and Izuku walked through it into a white room with a glass panel that looked through into a cell. Restrained and staring at him within the bleak white of the room was All for One.

Their eyes met and Izuku did his best to mask his fear. All Might was watching, he couldn’t mess this up. He just couldn’t.

“Ah Izuku Midoriya,” All for One’s voice was strangely pleased, “We finally meet face to face.”

“All for One.” His tone was neutral or as neutral as he could make it.

“I half to admit you seemed much livelier in Kamino, that escape was your plan wasn’t it?” The wide knowing smirk on the man was more off putting than Izuku remembered it being but he’d barely gotten a look at the man before.

“I was there.” He replied as he forced himself not to fidget under the eyeless gaze.

“It was quite the risky plan to get young Bakugou out though I suppose it worked out for you all.” All for One continued, “Very impressive Midoriya, maybe overly risky but impressive nonetheless.”

“That’s a bit hypocritical of you to say when you're the one in a prison cell.” Izuku pointed out trying to keep the mixture of fear and rage off his face and out of his voice.

All for One let out a chuckle, “For now, we both know this isn’t going to last forever… Young Midoriya.”

He said the last part mimicking the booming voice of All Might’s muscular form but it lacked the warmth, Izuku supposed All for One wasn’t capable of it. He also wondered about the nature of the threat. If it was a threat of his imminent escape or if it was meant to be something else. Was it a threat that this would be over soon or was he planning on attacking him? Or was it something more psychological to unnerve him?

“While it’s nice to know that the current holder of my brother’s quirk is more than a metaphorical bull in a china shop, conversation is usually held a bit louder.” All for One remarked almost like a condescending yet vaguely disappointed parent.

Izuku had been muttering, he tried to hide his blush. He knew he was failing.

“When your conversation partner is more interested in self aggrandizing and being as condescending as possible it can be more enjoyable to simply think aloud and ignore them.” Izuku replied as he managed to bring his embarrassed blush back under his own control.

All for One’s smile curled and Izuku wasn't sure if that was a good thing. It didn’t seem like one. How much time was left?

“Oh please I doubt All Might is any good at conversation, the man’s as bullheaded as they come.” All for One said dismissively.

“He’s better than you!” Izuku snapped feeling defensive of his mentor, “He’s infinitely better than you could ever be!”

All for One’s eyes would’ve narrowed if he had any. He looked furious, murderous. Izuku felt his shoulders tense as One for All crackled just under his skin in warning. His body was anticipating an attack despite All for One’s apparent restraints and their separation. He faintly heard the door behind him open and footsteps come up behind him.

Then at the sound the rage seemed to drain from All for One. He took a deep breath and audibly exhaled, “I suppose All Might did one thing right, he put One for All back in our family .”

It took a second for his words to register. Nothing made sense. It was like he was buffering. He didn’t realize he was shaking. Confusion and fear threw out any rational thought he could’ve had.

 “How would that even be possible?” Izuku asked, trying to keep his voice steady.

“Inko and I met when she was twenty-three I believe,” All for One stated calmly, “I had a few motives to try and naturally conceive a child and I was curious to see how her quirk could affect mine in a child. So in service to this curiosity I proposed. Then we had you, my brother’s spitting image. I knew I couldn’t stay so I made up some lie that I’d gotten some job overseas. I sent enough money that you’d both be fine. It’s not that hard to understand. I’ve seen your IQ tests, you're smarter than this behavior would suggest.”

“You’re lying.” Izuku was grasping at straws, how could he know that?

All for One laughed chilled him to the bone, “Of course not. Actually put thought into it Izuku, the obsession with quirks. The interest in All Might. Your own genetic code wrote you into this war Izuku, I just regret hiding it from you. We could’ve been on the same side.”

“You’re lying!” Izuku was desperate. He had to be playing mind games he had too ! There was no way.

“You can say what you want but that won’t change the truth.” All for One said it with such certainty that Izuku didn’t know how to respond.

Aizawa squeezed his shoulder, Izuku hadn't felt it connect, “Time’s up.”

Izuku managed to nod and started towards the door. Aizawa wasn't following him out. He was almost out of the room. He didn’t know what to believe about this. Was the time even actually up? Or was Aizawa taking the decision into his own hands?

“That’s my kid so shut your damn mouth.” Aizawa’s words cut through the anxiety ridden haze Izuku had found himself in. He turned to see Aizawa staring All for One down. Before the man turned and walked him the rest of the way out of the rooms.

The halls were still blank and foreboding as they left. The air was still stale and they were still flanked by guards as they walked. The elevator ride was still uncomfortably long. But none of it registered to Izuku. He felt blank in a way. He was just trying to hold it all in. Once he was back in his dorm room he could scream into a pillow or cry. He hadn’t quite known how to feel yet. 

The water around Tartarus stretched around them for miles. The grey concrete of the road cut through the endless stretching blue around them. A car sat ready to go, waiting for them beside it was All Might. Midoriya didn’t know what to say. They didn’t have any proof of what he’d said but it strangely made sense. It almost felt like one of Todoroki’s theories only hitting much closer to home than usual.

Before he could say anything, All Might pulled Midoriya into a hug. No one said anything. They didn’t half too.

Izuku’s phone had died hours ago. His last texts had been to the “Dekusquad” groupchat when they were three hours away from UA. He’d tried to sound upbeat. He doubted anyone had bought it. Despite Aizawa’s pointed not-quite-suggestions he couldn’t sleep. He was exhausted but he couldn't sleep because his mind kept playing the conversation over and over and over. So he stared at the window watching everything go by. He’d taken to imaging a figure running beside the car to try and distract himself.

Finally when they got back to UA it was two in the morning. Both All Might and Aizawa walked him to the 1A dorms. Aizawa insisted it was to make sure that his classmates hadn’t destroyed anything and were all accounted for. All Might hadn’t given a reason. When they got to the familiar door All Might pat Midoriya on the shoulder gave him a nod and watched him and Aizawa go in before walking away.

Thankfully the common room was mostly empty. And the few people that were there were asleep. Denki was curled up in an armchair while Uraraka and Mina shared one for the couches. Kirishma looked like he'd fallen off the couch he’d been sleeping on taking his blanket with him. An old movie flickered on the television. 

“Go to bed problem child,” Aizawa said softly, “I’ll deal with them.”

Midoryia didn’t argue he just nodded and headed for his dorm room. He was sure his friends would have questions tomorrow, he hoped he’d have some sort of answer. He changed out of his hero costume, put his phone on the charger, and collapsed onto his bed. Hopefully for a night of dreamless sleep.